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    Sterling, Cascades & CountrySide
    COUNTRYSIDE/CASCADES/STERLING: Senior Center Creates a Community
    For those at least 55 years of age, the Loudoun County Senior Center at Cascades offers a world of activities, learning opportunities and countless ways to make new friends.

    On Tuesdays, seniors with technology questions related to mobile devices, computers, social media and more can stop by the center from 5 to 7 p.m. for help from teens who know their way around today’s technology. The teens are available to offer pointers on the Internet, help install apps and help you figure out how to get the most out of those sometimes puzzling programs that your family members insist are the best things available on the face of the earth at the moment. The Teen Tech Tuesday program is free for members and available to nonmembers for a $2 drop-in fee. Advance registration is required; sign up in the senior center office for a 30-minute time slot.

    Driver improvement assistance is available onsite. AARP offers its two-day Safe Driver session at the senior center on Wednesday, Jan. 28, and Friday, Jan. 30, from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. Participation in the program may help reduce auto insurance costs. The fee is $15 for AARP members and $20 for nonmembers.

    The center offers many entertainment options, including a Classic Movie Night on the last Tuesday of every month at 5 p.m. The Jan. 27 film is “Pillow Talk,” starring Doris Day and Rock Hudson in a shenanigan-filled soufflé involving an interior decorator, a musician and a telephone party line (you pretty much have to be older than 55 to have experienced that landline “app”).

    In addition, the senior center offers a variety of health and exercise programs (including Zumba Gold), line dancing, a current events discussion group, a writing group, a book club, a camera club, an Indian cultural group, games such as Senior Jeopardy (the next session takes place Wednesday, Jan.28, at 11 a.m.) and a Red Hat Mamas group.

    Upcoming senior center trips include a stop at the Signature Theater in Washington to see “Diner” on Jan. 25 and a visit to Hollywood Casino in Charles Town, W.Va., on Jan. 29.

    A one-year senior center membership, offering access to free and member-priced events, is available to Loudoun County residents for $26 and to those living outside of the county for $39. A drop-in pass is available for $2 per day for county residents and $3 per day for nonresidents. For information, call 571-258-3280.

    Contact Kathie Felix at KFinLoudoun[at]
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    When I first moved up to this area, I would stop the car and stare out the window to look at the deer on the side of the road. For months, when riding with others, I would shout “Deer!” and wonder why no one seemed enthralled. Then I figured it out. This area has a lot of deer.

    The white-tailed deer that lives all over this area is so prevalent that it’s actually named after our state. The official Latin name for these ubiquitous animals is Odocoileus virginianus. Probably because the first colonists were as stunned by the numbers as we sometimes are. These deer are found in North and South America, and have been introduced in other continents as well. Even though some animal experts now divide the white tail into a lot of subspecies, the Virginia White-Tail is one of the most prevalent and lives all over the area.

    However, there used to not be so many of them. By the end of the 1800s, the white-tail was in a perilous decline. Hunting and disappearing habitats were causing the deer to be endangered, with less than half a million still around in the U.S. in the middle of the 1900s. Virginia, along with many other states, put in place strict protections to help the deer populations recover. The good news is that it worked, and the deer have come back strong. Some estimate that over 30 million deer are now living in the U.S. doing what deer do.

    Regardless how many deer there are, they are beautiful, graceful and seem almost the embodiment of the forest. As much as we might become a bit underwhelmed when we see a deer, children don’t seem to ever find it boring. If you’re riding with a child, you can be sure they will shout “Deer!” just like a Loudoun newbie.

    That’s why on Tuesday, Feb. 3, Claude Moore Park off of Cascades Parkway is hosting a Nature’s Explorer program on deer. Our youngest explorers (ages 4-6) will learn about the deer through music and art, along with going through the Discovery Grove, an outside learning center. The program cost $14 per child and you must preregister. For more information, or to preregister, call the Visitor Center at 571-258-3700. You can also ask about all their upcoming programs, including one on owls – but that’s another column.

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    COUNTRYSIDE/CASCADES/STERLING: Grants for Eastern Loudoun Classrooms
    Eight teachers in eastern Loudoun won’t have to dip as far into their own personal funds to provide their students with innovative programs this year, thanks to grants from the Loudoun Education Foundation. The latest local grant recipients are Carol Black of Countryside Elementary, Amy Boehl of Seneca Ridge Middle School, Steven Charlish of Potowmack Elementary, Erin Hazlett of Potowmack Elementary, Janie Gaudens of Potowmack Elementary, Jeff Marsh of Park View High School, Patricia Peterson of Algonkian Elementary and William Stremple of Seneca Ridge Middle School. The grants, ranging from $245 to $500, will fund classroom projects such as a mobile maker space and community building. The Eastern Loudoun teachers were among 130 applicants for the funds; a total of 34 teacher classroom grants were awarded.

    Choir honors: Catherine Lee of Dominion High School was selected to perform in the Senior Honors Choir at the Virginia Music Educators Conference in Norfolk. Lee was one of 15 Loudoun County students chosen following auditions of more than 750 high school seniors from Virginia.

    Best lettuce: Sometimes doing your homework can become a prize-winning experience. Brendan Grove of Seneca Ridge Middle School was awarded first prize for the best hydroponically grown Bibb lettuce in the 4-H Youth Development Program. Grove and his classmates in teacher Rick Peck’s life science class grew their leafy greens from seeds and the resulting plants were judged by a panel of Loudoun County master gardeners. Loudoun extension agent Katie Thomas presented Grove with the first-prize award.

    Get a clue: The Cascades Library After Hours Teen Center presents an 80s night featuring a real-life version of Clue, the mystery game, on Friday, Jan. 16, from 7 to 10 p.m. Teens are invited to dress up in 80s attire—and dance to 80s music, too. As always, gaming, computers and art supplies will be available. Teens must arrive by 7:30 p.m. and must have a permission slip on file. For information, call 703-444-3228.

    Lunch with friends: The Restaurant Review group of the CountrySide Women’s Club kicks off the new year with a Mexican feast at Uncle Julio’s Rio Grande Café in Reston Town Center on Jan. 20 at noon. Carpooling options are available. This is one of at least 10 activities the club presents monthly, including a general meeting, a book club meeting, three bridge sessions, a stitching session, a bunco party, a coffee talk get-together and a monthly social night. Members and prospective members are welcome to attend. To RSVP, call 540-882-4970 or 703-642-0448.

    Contact Kathie Felix at KFinLoudoun[at]
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    STERLING BOULEVARD:  Cookies versus crackers
    COUNTRYSIDE/CASCADES/STERLING: On stage, on the court, out of the cold
    STERLING BOULEVARD:  Won’t you be my neighbor?
    STERLING BOULEVARD: Not a creature was stirring
    COUNTRYSIDE/CASCADES/STERLING: Nights of Lights, Nights of Sights
    STERLING BOULEVARD: Have you been naughty … or nice?
    COUNTRYSIDE/CASCADES/STERLING: Eastern Loudoun Students in the Spotlight
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